38. Federal Appellate Defense: Complex Litigation

Many lawyers say that they handle “complex litigation”. Really? Do they? Have they actually gotten positive results? Make them show you.

Here at Mackey Law Group, our lawyers don’t just say we handle complex litigation, we do it all the time and we win!  Recently, Pete Mackey and T.R. Smith obtained a federal court jury verdict in the Middle District Court in Tampa, Florida (yes, we actually work and try cases in federal court) for one of our business clients. This trial victory is highlighted in our blog entitled “Federal Court Jury Trial Victory”.

Then, the loser’s Washington D.C. and West Palm Beach big-firm lawyers appealed the Tampa Federal Court verdict to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta, Georgia. This did not intimidate our lawyers in the slightest; we never missed a beat. Mackey Law Group’s lawyers have litigated in federal court for years and our lawyers have successfully represented many clients in appeals. So, after year of appellate briefs and submissions to the appellate court, on July 18, 2019 the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed our client’s jury verdict. A copy of the Eleventh Circuit’s entire opinion follows this blog. Opinion Affirming

The lesson to be learned? Don’t settle for anything but the best when choosing litigation counsel. Ask questions and demand answers. Here at Mackey Law Group we are litigators who actually know how to take a complex litigation case through trial, win, and then through the appeal process if necessary. To obtain the best outcome you can, you need to retain the best lawyers you can.

36. Government at fault? Now what?

Ever heard of someone getting hurt by, or on, city, county, or government property in Florida?  Suing the State of Florida is not the same as suing a private person or a private corporation and there is a lot of “red tape” you have to deal with.

These procedures need to be strictly followed.  For example, you have to first provide notice of your intent to file a lawsuit to the Florida Department of Financial Services; you cannot just sue right away, as is the case in most civil actions against a private person or corporation.  Once the notice is filed, the government then has the opportunity to conduct its own investigation of the incident and injury prior to you being able to file a lawsuit.

Another difference is how much you can sue for.  The government does not have to pay a claim that exceeds $200,000.00 for one person, or more than a total of $300,000.00 for all claims that arise out of one incident.  Anything over this amount, needs to be addressed through a claims bill, where the state legislature has to authorize a payment that exceeds the cap amounts.  Different state agencies can be sued if they are negligent and cause injury.  They include: executive departments; the legislature; state university trustee boards; counties; municipalities and corporations that act primarily for the state or their agents.

Should you find yourself in a situation where you need to file suit against a government entity, do not hesitate to contact Mackey Law Group to speak with one of our experienced attorneys.

By: Jose Estigarribia, Esq.

34. Mackey Law Group collects six-figure payment from large agricultural conglomerate!

Mackey Law Group litigator Jose Estigarribia just completed a case involving a local agricultural conglomerate that was refusing to pay for its crop insurance, which had been reduced to two (2) promissory notes. Jose was able to quickly collect a large six-figure payment, which included the amount due to Mackey Law Group’s client; plus all interest, and all attorney’s fees and costs.

When dealing with promissory notes, it is critical to understand the law, causes of action available, and how to position one’s client to get paid in an expedited manner; remember, no one pays unless they are painted into a corner. In this case, the defendant was wealthy and had continuously stalled and ignored Mackey Law Group’s client.  Jose was able to immediately “apply the legal pressure needed” to quickly and efficiently collect the monies owed to our client.  If the defendant did not pay, it was looking at having a judgment against it and having its assets attached. Do not be intimidated by large corporations or the large law firms those corporations hire (in this case the defendant chose the largest law firm in the County, assuming that would make a difference).

If you have money owed to you, do not hesitate to contact the Mackey Law Group to enforce your rights!

32. Victory for Anna Maria Island General Contractor!

After two years of litigation, Mackey Law Group just attained another favorable verdict; this time for an Anna Maria Island general contractor!

The wealthy beachfront homeowner refused to pay for the last draw on the remodeling contract and then spent over $200,000 in attorney’s fees (far more than what was owed to the contractor) in an attempt to break our general contractor client.

The homeowner had three local lawyers manning his side of the case. These lawyers went to great lengths to attempt to pull out a victory; among other things these opposing lawyers and the homeowner: (i) went to the local papers, repeatedly placing our general contractor client in a bad light and stating how confident they were in their case; (ii) took discovery, obtained from our general contractor client during the case, and went to the City of Anna Maria and involved many other families in the dispute in an effort to gain an advantage; (iii) even solicited past customers of our general contractor client in an attempt to get our client’s past customers to testify against our client; and (iv) repeatedly stated that they were “going to put your client out of business”.

Despite all of the above, Mackey Law Group’s lawyers hung in there with the general contractor during this exhausting and very expensive two-year process. No matter how much money an opponent can throw at a case and no matter how down and dirty other lawyers can be, the truth usually prevails if you have the right lawyers on your side. The general contractor obtained a verdict in its favor and the principals of the general contracting company also obtained verdicts as well, in defense of the personal claims made by the homeowner. Most importantly, Mackey Law Group positioned the general contractor to not only win; but, to now be able to proceed to get the general contractor all of its attorney’s fees and costs that the homeowner forced the general contractor to spend in pursuing payment for the work it did.

If you are a contractor facing a non-paying client who has a lot of money and has “lawyered-up”, don’t be intimidated. Hire an experienced construction attorney and stick to your guns. Victory can be yours.

By: Peter J. Mackey, Esq.

28. Another Trial, Another Victory! Mackey Law Group wins trial for Cortez dock builder!

Mackey Law Group has once again prevailed at trial; this time on behalf of a Cortez dock builder.  In 2015, a wealthy English hotelier contracted with a Cortez dock builder to install a high-end dock out at the English hotelier’s summer home in Holmes Beach. After the dock was installed, the English hotelier predictably did not fully pay and started to complain about various aspects of the dock installation. This was despite the fact that the Cortez dock builder even had the product manufacturer write an opinion letter as to the great job the dock builder had done. This was, once again, an example of a wealthy person attempting to take advantage of a local contractor, via costly and lengthy litigation.

Fortunately for the Cortez dock builder, he came to Mackey Law Group. We took over for a prior lawyer and prosecuted, what is referred to as, a mechanic’s lien case. We would not back down to the English hotelier’s Bradenton lawyer, who took ridiculous legal positions, kept stalling things out, and made the whole process as expensive as he could.  Ultimately, Mackey Law Group got the case to trial and procured a verdict in favor of the dock builder! Not only did Mackey Law Group attain a verdict for the remaining amount owed for the dock, we were able to also attain a verdict for all of the dock builder’s attorney’s fees, its expert witness fees, and prejudgment interest at 18%! In addition, the English hotelier had counterclaimed for complete removal of the dock and the return of what money he had paid the dock builder. Mackey Law Group zeroed-out the English hotelier on his counterclaim.

Choosing the right lawyer is always the key to victory. One should not choose a lawyer (or keep using one) based on advertisements and T.V. commercials. Find out if the lawyer is a real “trial lawyer”, as opposed to a paper-lion.  Here at Mackey Law Group we try cases all the time; and, our track record for victory speaks for itself. There is nothing better for our clients than to have our skilled lawyers on their side and to obtain victory over these “local legends”.  Call us today if you find yourself in a legal battle.

By: Peter J. Mackey, Esq.

21. The Proof is in the Paperwork: How Trying to Evict a Tenant Without Proper Notice Can Damage a Landlord

If you are a landlord and a tenant has violated his lease; but, refuses to leave, you want them removed as quickly as possible to restart positive cash flow. This is an issue that unfortunately many landlords face, and unless the landlord is well-versed with the Landlord Tenant Act, it can be a bigger problem than anticipated.

Here is a typical scenario: A tenant who has failed to pay rent, has also moved-in a roommate and their 4 dogs. The infuriated landlord, decides to post a typical 3-day notice for non-payment of rent and files his own eviction action.  However, what the landlord fails to realize is that, although a 3-day notice is required for non-payment of rent, a 7-day notice to cure is required for the roommate and the 4 dogs.

On the eve of the final hearing, the slick tenant then pays the rent in cash, which the landlord puts in his pocket saying he’ll see his tenant in court because the landlord still wants the tenant removed due to the roommate and dogs. The result? The landlord’s eviction action will likely be dismissed for failure to post a 7-day notice, and for accepting the rental payment. This scenario requires the landlord to start over: post a 7-day notice, amend the eviction action, and attend a second hearing, thus elongating the entire process and costing more money.

Mackey Law Group is well versed in landlord-tenant actions and can effectively assist in either defending a wrongful eviction, or swiftly navigating the court system to evict a tenant the right way. If you are having an issue with a tenant or a landlord, consider calling Mackey Law Group today.

By: Drew Chesanek, Esq.

17. Federal Court Jury Trial Victory!

On November 30, 2017, at the conclusion of three day jury trial, Pete Mackey and T.R. Smith procured a Federal Court jury verdict in favor of Mackey Law Group’s client. This ended over a year’s worth of nasty litigation concerning Mackey Law Group’s client, who is a minority shareholder in a defendant out-of-state corporation which contracts with the United States government.

Once again, Mackey Law Group’s lawyers defeated “the big boys”. The defendant corporation (which has revenues in excess of $14 million per year), was represented by two law firms: (i) a Washington D.C. 40+ year lawyer;  and (ii) a “Florida Legal Elite” lawyer from West Palm Beach who is a member of a large state-wide law firm. Mackey Law Group’s client initially sued in Bradenton, Florida State Court and the defendant corporation and its lawyers removed the case to Federal Court, obviously thinking that things would be tougher for Mackey Law Group’s lawyers in that forum. The defendant corporation also asserted four counter-claims which, not-surprisingly, were for amounts which exceeded what was being sought by Mackey Law Group’s minority-shareholder client.

The claim by Mackey Law Group’s client was for money owed for deferred officer salary under an oral contract. Of course, the defendant corporation was going to deny the existence of any such contract/agreement; so, Mackey Law Group’s lawyers also sued for what is called “unjust enrichment”. In Florida, one can sue on a contract claim and also, within the same lawsuit, sue for the same money due under a non-contract claim. Thus, if the court or jury finds there is no contract, the client can still prevail.

On the third day of trial, and before the case went to the jury for deliberations, Mackey Law Group’s lawyers also got all four of the defendant corporation’s counterclaims thrown-out, via the procurement of directed verdicts. Those rulings resulted in the only claims going to the jury being Mackey Law Group’s client’s claims for breach of contract and unjust enrichment. The jury awarded Mackey Law Group’s client $154,000 and now the firm’s client will also be able to get a judgment for his litigation costs as well.

Once again, this jury verdict goes to evidence that the little-guy can win in our legal system. Despite how big the opponent is or how many high-priced lawyers the opponent hires; if you have a good lawyer, you can prevail and attain justice. Mackey Law Group’s lawyers are courtroom veterans and successfully try cases in both State and Federal Court.

16. Is Your Neighbors New Landscaping Project Flooding Your House?

Did you know Florida is the flattest state in the U.S.? It is also one of the wettest states, receiving more rain than any other state during the wet summer months. Because of this, care must be taken when undertaking new construction to consider how new developments will impact the flow of water.

For example, if your neighbor decides to raise the elevation of his property, change the landscaping of his yard, or build an addition to his home, you may find yourself taking on more water than ever. This may lead to flooding, causing thousands of dollars in damage. What are your rights if you find yourself in this scenario?

Florida follows the “Reasonable Use Doctrine”. It states that a land owner may alter his land, even if it changes or increases the flow of surface water, so long as it is reasonable. Reasonableness is determined on a case by case basis, and the court may consider, the nature and importance of any improvements, whether or not the damage was reasonably foreseeable, the extent of damage compared to the value of any improvements. At this point, you may need to hire an attorney.

              Mackey Law Group has represented clients dealing with flooding caused by negligent neighbors, and are familiar with the law. Don’t let yourself get bullied accepting an unreasonable consequence from your neighbor’s construction.

By: Jorge Martinez, Esq.

10. Sex, Lies, and False Accusations

In June of 2015, Jim (all names have been changed) was sitting in his office at a well-known business when Sam, a neighbor of Jim’s, walked through the lobby, stuck his head into Jim’s office, and asked him to come outside of the building to speak with him. When Jim walked outside the building front doors, Sam commenced to punch Jim, and continued to do so after Jim hit the ground. An employee ran outside and literally saved Jim. The injuries to Jim were significant. He was taken to the hospital by ambulance and had a broken nose and fractured orbital socket.

Things then got worse for Jim. Over the next two months, Sam placed professionally-made signs in the Bradenton neighborhood where they both lived (and had minor children), stating that there was a child molester living in their neighborhood and asking people to call a number on the sign that was Sam’s number! Sam also kept spray-painting orange arrows on the pavement in front of Jim’s house. When the HOA president attempted to remove one of the signs at the entrance of the neighborhood, he was confronted later that evening at his house by Sam, who had placed a game-camera in the bushes by the entrance-way sign!

What caused all of the above?

Sam’s minor daughter had apparently been having disciplinary problems and had, the morning of the assault, told Sam’s wife what Jim had improperly touched her years earlier. Absent asking any questions, Sam had taken everything his teenage daughter said at face value. Sam left the house, drove to Jim’s place of employment, and assaulted Jim. Sam then proceeded to place the above-referenced signs and painted arrows. In turn, Jim and his family were mortified. They actually had to move out of the neighborhood to a neighboring town. How could a man possibly defend such unsubstantiated allegations? The worst thing a married man with children could possibly be called is a child-molester!

What happened next?

That’s when Jim came to Mackey Law Group. We gathered all the facts and commenced a civil action against Sam. Mackey Law Group also proceeded to retain one of the best experts in the country as to defending the totally false allegations.

Sam hired a Sarasota lawyer, who was affiliated with a Miami firm. Sam’s lawyer was high-brow and “specialized in child abuse cases”. Sam even counterclaimed on behalf of his daughter against Jim. Sam and his lawyer tried anything they could to legally intimidate Jim and his family. They actually demanded that Jim pay Sam’s family money! Sam’s lawyer was adamant and condescending the whole way through the lawsuit, repeatedly stating things to Mackey Law Group’s lawyers such as: “You have a pedophile on your hands what are y’all going to do?”

But Mackey Law Group’s attorneys believed in our client, navigated the case around the many obstacles put up by Sam’s legal team, and we kept pushing to get to trial on the false accusations and outrageous conduct/battery. Although it was expensive for Jim, he refused to bow-down to such bully-tactics. By the time trial was nearing, Mackey Law Group’s lawyers had even documented the accusing girl’s (Sam’s daughter) story as changing no less than 7 times! Sam’s legal intimidation tactics had not worked.

How was the case resolved?

Finally, when trial was upon the parties, Sam’s lawyer asked for a continuance of the trial, which the Judge refused to do. Then Sam’s lawyer asked for mediation and the Judge granted Sam’s lawyer’s request. At mediation, Mackey Law Group opened the proceeding by literally shocking the other side with its preparation. Our lawyers were on task and put on Jim’s complete case in summary fashion; inclusive of: photographs, police reports, hospital records, and our expert’s analysis that the event referenced by the accusing minor girl never happened. Conversely, Sam and his lawyers appeared to have nothing to fight back with. They actually appeared to be stunned.

As a result, Mackey Law Group got Sam to agree to: (i) pay Jim $175,000 cash; (ii) never disparage Jim again; and (iii) the entry of a no-contact order as to Jim and his entire family for the rest of Sam’s life; he cannot come within 500 feet of Jim’s family. In addition, Mackey Law Group forced Sam to agree that the settlement would not be confidential; that way, Jim could go back to his former neighbors and show them exactly what the result was as to the false accusations and battery by Sam.

The moral of this?

Never back down to bullies. Stand up for yourself when you are in the right. And, when necessary, hire the very best lawyers you know. Justice will prevail.

By: Peter J. Mackey, Esq.